Did I ever tell you that I didn’t start out with any particular aim or wish to become a Feldenkrais® trainer?
In 1988, Dennis Leri and Elizabeth Berringer started the Somathematics training. It met during the summer months in a gymnasium at Sonoma State University, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of San Francisco. That was during the middle of my master’s program in Cybernetic Systems at San Jose State University (SJSU) and when I was studying intensely with Heinz von Foerster, who had been in on the founding of the field along with Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and John von Neumann.
From the moment we’d met, Heinz had taken me under his wing. While I may have been taking classes at SJSU, I was studying with him. I would give him all the assignments and papers for my academic classes; they served as the basis for our regular meetings at his house on Rattlesnake Hill in Pescadero. Along with the assignments he gave me, the conferences we attended, and social time we spent together, these were the means whereby Heinz orchestrated my individual, rigorous, and heartfelt tutelage in cybernetics and epistemology. And they were his way of inducting me into the Wittgenstein world. (Sorry, I digress; more on this another time. )
Much to my surprise — and delight — it turned out that Heinz knew Moshe . . . and that he was interested in the Method. He had visited the San Francisco training, where he and Moshe had a deep and friendly collegial conversation in front of the class. (The transcript of this conversation was published in the 1977 edition of the Feldenkrais Journal of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America.)
As it happened both Elizabeth and Dennis attended the San Francisco training. When they invited Heinz to give a series of lectures to the Somathematic trainees over a few days, he happily accepted.
Heinz was 88 at the time so I was his driver. I picked him up at his home an hour south of San Francisco and drove him to Sonoma State University (SSU), about an hour north of SF. Each day he lectured, I picked him up at the bed and breakfast inn where he stayed, took him to the talks at SSU and brought him back at the end of day. During the day, I’d also chauffeur him to meetings and meals, all of which I also took part in. When the talks were done, I drove him all the way back home, taking scenic Highway One along the Pacific Coast from San Fran to Pescadero. (In case you’re wondering, I was about to turn 30 at the time.)
I had been at the training before, from the very first day in fact. That was five years after I’d graduated from the Amherst training and it was my first time back in this setting, this learning laboratory and crucible. My first time to lie on the floor with fellow somanauts* for one day after the other. My first time to be led through a series of Awareness Through Movement® (ATM®) lessons and to be taught more about giving Functional Integration® (FI®) lessons by the artful and compassionate Gaby Yaron. This was also my first time giving FIs to trainees in a teacher training program during their training.
My trip with Heinz was also an entirely different kind of first time experience. That’s because that was my first time behind the scenes at a training. I was hanging out with the trainers and the invited guest, a man as important to me as Moshe and as close as my grandfathers. Not only did I attend his lectures and hang out with Heinz between them, but reflected on them with him and Elizabeth, Dennis (with whom I’d been meeting regularly with also), and the other members of the faculty. At the end of the day, it was just us together in the car, he debriefed each talk with me. We discussed it in relation to everything I studied with him: the training he’d given as part of the est trainer’s training, the papers he’d written, and, most significantly, in relation to the work of other cyberneticians, scientists, and psycho- and group therapists, including that of his students and co-conspirators, Humberto Maturana and Francesco Varela.
In this way, Heinz let me in on his perspective as a teacher. That experience, along with the insight from conversations with Elisabeth and Dennis, made it possible for me to see what I hadn’t considered before: the training from the trainer’s point of view.
Once that vista opened, I couldn’t imagine my world without it. I’d been enchanted, inspired, and changed by the conversations I’d witnessed and even dared to participate in.
In these amazing times of our world Covid 19 pandemic and sheltering at home, I’m offering my colleagues — Feldenkrais teachers — a chance to participate in an online training segment.
We’ll use the recordings from the sixth segment of my recently graduated fifth Amsterdam International Feldenkrais Teacher Training (AIFTT V) as the core material. (AIFTT V met four times a year for two or more weeks at a time.) The sixth segment is when the trainees are starting to become Functional Integrators and well on their way to learning what it means to be ATM teachers.
Participants will receive one day of the training at a time. That means, when you sign up, you’ll get access to the audio recordings of the ATMs I taught along with videos from that day. Over the course of the segment, these videos cover topics such as:
- Understanding lesson composition and teaching ATM.
- Preparing to teach an ATM lesson.
- Turning an ATM into an FI.
- Defining Moshe’s methodology.
- Demonstrating the techniques, tactics, and strategies deployed when the student is kneeling over the table.
- Conducting initial interviews using Neuro Linguistic Programming®..
- Reframing conversationally and somatically.
- Doing small group tasks to put these ideas into action . . . and debriefing what happened.
You’ll get access to a new day of the training every Sunday and Wednesday through the Mind in Motion’s Online Multimedia Library. Besides the recordings you’ll also have access to online logs which include detailed lesson summaries and in depth logs of what happened during each part of the day.
With a week’s break over Passover and Easter holidays, we’ll take six and a half weeks to cover the ten days of training.
The theme of the ATM series is the developmental transition from moving around yourself to moving yourself around, an apt somatic metaphor for the trainees’ transition from learning the method to becoming the educator. And a wonderful theme for us to explore during our hour-and-three quarter Zoom meetings: 45 minutes, 15-minute break, and then another 45 minutes.
We’ll meet twice each week, once midweek and once on the weekend. We’ll focus on learning by:
- Working with yourself and exploring FI from the inside out
- Working with your classmates in break-out groups during our biweekly get-togethers, with your study buddy or buddies, and via online forum for the course.
- We’ll also consider the training content in terms of how it contributes to the pedagogical process, meaning explore the trainer’s perspective.
There will be two different groups meeting twice each week:
- The Pacific Rim group meeting starts next week on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM Pacific time, which will be Sunday and Thursday morning on the other side of the International Date Line.
- The Americas and Atlantic Rim group starts next Sunday and Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, which will be the evening in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
- We’ll kick off the program with an introduction and orientation this coming weekend to prepare you for when the first class drops on Monday. Registration is limited to 60 total.
I know this is a time of great difficulty for many, which is why we will also be offering six work-study scholarships.
It’s also the reason we’ll be making a PDF file of the notes to the course for free to everyone with a MIMO Become a Better Teacher account, whether you sign up for the course or not.
To learn more about the scholarships and get details about how you can take part in the two interactive weeks of training, please start by logging into your professional Become a Better Teacher (BABT) account on the Mind in Motion Online (MIMO) website.
As it happens, quite a few folks who already have a BABT account have written asking for one, which makes for a tricky situation. How do we give you what you already have? That’s why we’ve made it super easy for you to confirm your membership level.
When you log in to your MIMO account, you automagically arrive on your My Account page. There you’ll see your membership status (and how long you’ve had) right at the top of the page.
If you have BABT account, please click here to learn about this program and how to enroll.
If you have an public Improve My Abilities (IMA) account, you’ve completed a recognized teacher training, and you’re teaching Moshe’s method, you’re most likely already eligible for a professional account. Please use the option to upgrade your account showing your My Account page to request a BABT account, being sure to include the details about your teacher training program so that we can vet your application.
This is the moment for me to confess to — and apologize — with all that’s been going on recently (and before!), despite my best efforts — for letting some applications fall through the cracks. I messed up and I am truly sorry, even more than a bit embarrassed. I promise I’ll be on top of the applications this time around.
If you apply and you already have an account, I’ll definitely let you know. And I’ll do so in a timely fashion. Promise.
If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate it if you would please let any of your close colleagues who are eligible for and (who you think) would be interested in a free Become A Better Teacher account know that they can apply for one here.
There just one more — final — thing I’d like to let you know:
I’m doing this not just because this is a great time for learning.
I’m not doing this just because this will be an amazing, worthwhile way to learn, to continue to develop and improve yourself, and to make it through these challenging times doing something that is, both personally and professionally, constructive.
I am doing this to create:
- A learning lab that structures and builds on your individual learning.
- An experiential studio for embodying the moving arts and sciences.
- A collegial colloquium dedicated to delving into, reflecting on, and appreciating the student’s, teacher’s, and trainer’s distinct and overlapping points of view.
- And, most importantly perhaps, an interactive playground where we can learn with and from each other.
I am doing this because … it is going to be relevant, practical, applicable, AND FUN.
Connecting online, studying on your own, learning together, living up to — and stepping up to — your potential, understanding what’s behind the training process . . . while having fun together. Doesn’t that sound good right about now?
Will you join me?
What about if you’re not a Feldenkrais teacher?
Or if you are and you’re not up for what I’m proposing, but you are curious about the ATM series?
Maybe you prefer to do the ATMs on your own and to do them whenever you please? Or you’d like to do them with your co-learning cohort instead.
You can purchase the recordings of the entire series — all 18 Awareness Through Movement lessons from the segment — alone. That includes classics, such as COORDINATING FLEXORS AND EXTENSORS and TILTING THE KNEES TO SITTING, along with many ATMs rarely taught outside of training programs and more than a few of my original compositions, such as FROM CATERPILLAR TO SALAMANDER and PRAYING THE FELDENKRAIS WAY (on the side).
Click here to find out more.
* Somanauts are explorers of the somatic dimension of experience.
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